|BILL AS INTRODUCED||2007-2008|
Introduced by Senator Campbell of Windsor District, Senator Ayer of Addison District, Senator Condos of Chittenden District, Senator Flanagan of Chittenden District, Senator Lyons of Chittenden District, Senator McCormack of Windsor District, Senator Miller of Chittenden District, Senator Racine of Chittenden District, Senator Snelling of Chittenden District and Senator White of Windham District
Subject: Domestic relations; marriage
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to permit same-sex couples to marry and to allow clergy the right to refuse to solemnize a marriage, if to do so would violate the clergyperson’s right to religious liberty protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Article I, Chapter 3 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont.
AN ACT RELATING TO PERMITTING SAME-SEX MARRIAGE AND THE CLERGY’S RIGHT TO REFUSE TO SOLEMNIZE A MARRIAGE
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. SHORT TITLE
This act may be referred to and cited as “An Act to Protect Religious Freedom and Promote Equality in Civil Marriage.”
Sec. 2. PURPOSE
The purpose of this act is to promote legal equality in the civil marriage laws and to protect the religious freedom of clergy and religious societies authorized to solemnize civil marriages.
Sec. 3. 15 V.S.A. § 8 is amended to read:
§ 8. MARRIAGE DEFINITION
is the legally recognized union of
one man and one woman two
people. Gender-specific terms relating to the marital relationship or
familial relationships, including without limitation “spouse,” “family,”
“marriage,” “immediate family,” “dependent,” “next of kin,” “bride,” “groom,”
“husband,” “wife,” “widow,” and “widower,” shall be construed to be gender-neutral
for all purposes throughout the law, whether in the context of statute,
administrative or court rule, policy, common law, or any other source of civil
Sec. 4. 15 V.S.A. § 1202(2) is amended to read:
Be of the same sex
and therefore excluded from the marriage laws of
Sec. 5. 18 V.S.A. § 5131(a) is amended to read:
Upon application in a form prescribed by the department, a town clerk
shall issue to a person a civil marriage license in the form prescribed
by the department and shall enter thereon the names of the parties to the
proposed marriage, fill out the form as far as practicable and retain in the
clerk’s office a copy thereof. At least one party to the proposed
marriage shall sign the certifying application to the accuracy of the facts so
stated. The license shall be issued by the clerk of the town where either
the bride or groom party resides or, if neither is a resident of
the state, by any town clerk in the state.
Sec. 6. 18 V.S.A. § 5144 is amended to read:
§ 5144. Persons authorized to solemnize marriage
(a) Marriages may be solemnized by a supreme court justice, a superior court judge, a district judge, a judge of probate, an assistant judge or a justice of the peace, or by a member of the clergy residing in this state and ordained or licensed, or otherwise regularly authorized thereunto by the published laws or discipline of the general conference, convention, or other authority of his or her faith or denomination or by such a clergy person residing in an adjoining state or country, whose parish, church, temple, mosque, or other religious organization lies wholly or in part in this state, or by a member of the clergy residing in some other state of the United States or in the Dominion of Canada, provided he or she has first secured from the probate court of the district within which the marriage is to be solemnized a special authorization, authorizing him or her to certify the marriage if such probate judge determines that the circumstances make the special authorization desirable. Marriage among the Friends or Quakers, the Christadelphian Ecclesia, and the Baha’i Faith may be solemnized in the manner heretofore used in such societies.
(b) No member of the clergy authorized to solemnize a marriage as set forth in subsection (a) of this section, nor societies of Friends or Quakers, the Christadelphian Ecclesia, or the Baha’i Faith shall be required to solemnize any marriage in violation of the right to religious liberty protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and by Article I, Chapter 3 of the Constitution of the State of Vermont.
Sec. 7. REPEAL
15 V.S.A. § 1201(4) (definition of marriage) is repealed.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street